Scott: The president’s choice to head up the CIA faced tough questions during his senate confirmation hearing yesterday about the use of drones – unmanned planes – to target and kill terror suspects.
John Brennan: And, in fact, I think the American people will be quite pleased to know that we have been very disciplined, very judicious and we only use these authorities and these capabilities as a last resort.
Scott: The Obama administration is already under fire for a Justice Department memo that was leaked to the media stating the White House can use drones to attack and kill American citizens here in the U.S.
Reporter: This is giving the legal justification for killing American citizens without any trial whatsoever.
Jay Carney: I would point you to the ample judicial precedent for the idea that someone who takes up arms against the United States – in a war against the United States – is an enemy and therefore could be targeted accordingly.
Scott: The document states killing a U.S. citizen who is a ‘senior operational leader in al-Qaeda or an associated force’ is lawful under these three conditions: The suspect is engaged in planning operations to kill Americans, even if no specific attack is imminent; it is not possible to capture the suspect before the attack; and the operation follows applicable laws and war principles.
The White House has not made the document public but has agreed to allow some lawmakers to review the policy.
But some Republicans and Democrats say the drone program conflicts with the constitution. The 14th Amendment says, ‘no state shall deprive any person of life, liberty, or property without due process of law, meaning all Americans – even if accused of being a terrorist – are guaranteed a trial by jury.
Susan Collins: In many cases, we are talking about hardened terrorists. But we do need to have a different approach when an American citizen is involved.
Scott: The U.S. has already been using drones to fight the war on terror overseas, especially in Pakistan and Yemen. The White House says it is safer to target specific individuals using an unmanned aircraft rather than putting more U.S. troops in harms way.
The U.S. has already targeted and killed an American citizen using the unmanned drones. In 2011, Anwar al-Awlaki, a top al-Qaida leader, was killed in a drone strike in Yemen. And in that same attack, another American, Samir Khan, who was believed to be helping the terrorist group, was also killed. Awlaki’s 16-year-old American son was also believed to be killed during a drone attack.
U.S. citizen: We have a president who is doing something that even President Bush didn’t do, which is to order the killing of a United States citizen without clear evidence of an immediate attack.
Scott: Scott Evans, Channel One News.